It was a feast of nostalgia in Henley on Thames this past weekend, as Rewind South returned to the banks of the Thames for a fun-fuelled three-day extravaganza of music, reminiscing, outrageous costumes and more. Taking place from Friday 16th – Sunday 18th August 2019, this year’s acts included The Four Tops, Belinda Carlisle, and last-minute replacement headliners The Waterboys.
Kicking off proper on Saturday 17th, Rewind 2019 followed on from 2018’s event which saw the pop fest celebrate a decade of retro revival.
Taking to the stage in the early afternoon, The Undertones opened the event, with a heady mix of hits and Northern Irish humour, including ‘My Perfect Cousin’, and - given the welcome return of the sunshine following the previous night’s showers - an apt ‘Here Comes the Summer’.
What followed was a veritable jukebox of hits, as The Dire Straits Experience – featuring Straits member Chris White on saxophone, sophisti-pop duo Johnny Hate Jazz, and Birmingham reggae originators UB40 feat. Ali Campbell and Astro delivered the songs that soundtracked a generation.
Kim Appelby’s emotional appearance saw the singer dedicate her set to late sister Mel, running through a number of the duo’s unmistakable Stock Aiken Waterman hits including living for the weekend classic ‘F.L.M’, and singalong ‘Respectable’.
Saturday also proved that Girls Just Want To Have Fun, with mall-queen Tiffany delivering a rousing ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’, Heather Small raiding M People’s catalogue in the early afternoon, and Lulu straddling the years from the sixties to the nineties belting out Take That duet ‘Relight My Fire’, and iconic classic ‘Shout’.
Topping the bill however, the legendary Four Tops proved exactly why they continue to endure. With a career spanning five decades, the band’s show was a non-stop barrage of music, dancing and banter. Led by original member Abdul ‘Duke’ Fakir, opener ‘Loco in Acapulco’ ignited the Rewinders, bringing a touch of Motown soul to the festival site, and ensuring the crowd danced and sang into the night.
Day two (Sunday 18th August) brought more of the same, with early arrivers treated to a set by a returning From The Jam – who gained one of the most enthusiastic responses of the weekend - before an afternoon of reggae and two tone from the Neville Staple Band, The Selector, and The Wailers.
Also returning following his 2018 slot, was one-time Thin Lizzy and Ultravox man Midge Ure, whose impassioned early-evening set saw him tackle an evocative ‘Fade To Grey’, an uplifting ‘Dancing With Tears In My Eyes’, and a towering ‘Vienna’.
After a shaky start, Paul Young got in the swing of things with an uplifting ‘Everytime You Go Away’, while Belinda Carlisle’s flawless set saw the Californian show off her ethereal dance moves as well as her stunning voice, with a string of singles that included ‘Live Your Life Be Free’ and 1987 chart-topper ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth’.
Sister Sledge original Kathy Sledge’s fun-filled set meanwhile brought more girl power, as the ‘We Are Family’ singer invited up eager movers from the crowd to join her on stage and strut their stuff during ‘He’s The Greatest Dancer’.
Closing out the event, following the cancellation of headliner Michael Bolton at the eleventh hour, Celtic rockers The Waterboys stepped in, proving to be Rewind 2019’s unlikely heroes. “You were expecting one Michael, but you’ve got another”, quipped main man Mike Scott as the band began their uplifting set.
With a sound that shifted from all out rock and roll to country rock, although their deviation from the hits-only format didn’t sit well with some sections of the audience, their closing pairing of ‘The Whole of the Moon’ and a cover of Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ proved a triumph, and the perfect way to see out the festival.
Rewind Festival returns to Scotland, Macclesfield and Henley-on-Thames next summer, bringing more icons from the 80s and beyond, plus award-winning comedians and round the clock entertainment. Early bird tickets will be available soon. For more information visit the official Rewind Site.
Stay tuned for eonmusic’s interviews with The Four Tops, Paul Young, Johnny Hates Jazz, Tiffany and more, coming soon.
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Check out our gallery from the show below. All photos by Eamon O'Neill.